In Newark, NJ a rare treature trove of historical documents and assorted artifacts

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NEWARK -- One of the artifacts brought out from behind the heavy, six-inch doors of a basement vault in Newark is an oil portrait of Arthur T. Vanderbilt, New Jersey’s chief justice from 1948-1957.

Still stored there are original letters from the Olmsted Brothers, famed park designers, and even original art-deco door knockers, shaped as human figures and once gripped by Newark visitors to an "Egyptian-style" courthouse razed in 1907.

The black-doored vaults along a darkened corridor inside the Essex County Hall of Records in Newark provide a home for historical documents and assorted artifacts that were once scattered in offices throughout the county.

The items — many of them portals into the lives of the Essex County of old — have been digitally captured within the past year, making for quite a picture show in the offices of Frank J. DelGaudio, the county risk manager in charge of records modernization.

"We can just pull up anything back to 1682," DelGaudio said.

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